Weekly News from the Diocese

Update 3rd April 2020 From Bishop Cherry

Updated guidance from the Bench of Bishops

For latest guidance from Church in Wales please click here.

Live-streamed Eucharists
I am immensely heartened by the resilience and creativity of our clergy who are using all means possible to support people in their prayer and worship. Many, I know, have been live-streaming acts of worship, including the Eucharist. Following the latest guidance, most, if not all, will now be doing that alone from within their own homes. 
For last week’s service please click here.

Holy Week and Easter
One of the extraordinary outcomes of our present lockdown is the number of people who are engaging with us on social media platforms. Although we must not forget those who don’t have this kind of access to the plethora of prayer and worship activity online, the fact that we are attracting new people is a cause for great rejoicing. This, especially so as we approach the most important week in the church’s calendar. As a parish priest I bemoaned each year the relatively few numbers of people who would come to the midweek services of Holy Week. Even on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, it was a minority who attended. This year, although many of the faithful may be missing out due to having no internet provision, it seems that we could be meeting with countless ‘new’ people tuning in to our worship either ‘live’ or at other times. For this, we give thanks.

I will be joining with the Cathedral team this year (as was originally planned) to provide the following:

11am Palm Sunday Eucharist from Bishopstow
5pm Monday – Holy Week reflection given by the Dean
5pm Tuesday – Holy Week reflection given by the Bishop
5pm Wednesday – Holy Week reflection given by the Precentor
5pm Maundy Thursday Eucharist from Bishopstow
12 noon Good Friday – Stations of the Cross
Holy Saturday – no broadcast, but a suggestion of renewing baptismal vows, lighting the Paschal Candle and at 9pm all who can, singing (loudly) the Exultet!
11am Easter Day Eucharist from Bishopstow

All will be available on Facebook and our website.

Christians Together
Online, there are no denominational barriers. You may be interested in joining Cytun (Churches Together in Wales) which has issued a call to all Christians, of whatever denomination, to come together at 7pm on Sundays. More information is available on their website www.cytun.co.uk

Those without internet access
In all the flurry of digital activity that is taking place (and which is wonderful to see), we must not forget those who are not connected to the internet. This will be the majority of the congregation in some of our churches. I hope that we can take as much time and effort in keeping people connected with a regular supply of hard copy resources as we are doing digitally.

Hospital Chaplains
Our Hospital Chaplaincy manager, Revd. Alan Tyler, asks that clergy let the team know if one of your parishioners is taken into hospital. They are mindful that clergy from the Diocese have been very good at pastoral visiting and they want to assure clergy and pastoral visitors that the chaplains are there to support and help in any way they can. Please would you ring the team on 01633 234263 giving:
Name of the patient
Address if known
The parish referring
In an emergency, please call 01633 234234 and ask them to page the duty chaplain.
Please don’t forget to pray for our chaplains in hospitals and hospices who are also on the frontline of care and support to those ill and dying from coronavirus and are risking their lives doing so.

Foodbanks
Many foodbanks are running short of essential supplies. Caldicot Foodbank is particularly badly hit. If you can help in any way, especially with breakfast foods, porridge, cereal bars, they would be very grateful. Their mobile number is 07925 285994
It is important to remember that foodbanks are the only access that many people have to basic food stuffs that most of us take for granted.

Lay Eucharistic Assistants (LEA) and Lay Eucharistic Ministers (LEM)
I intend to issue new permissions to all LEAs and LEMs starting from May 1st. These will last for one year. Please would Ministry Area Leaders let my PA, Vicki, know the names of those serving in these ministries by Thursday 9th April, giving a clear indication of the churches in which each are ministering. Vicki’s e mail address is monbishpa@churchinwales.org.uk

Retired Clergy
I am well aware that we are hugely indebted to our retired clergy for exercising a valued ministry across our diocese. Without them, parishes would be the poorer and many would not be able to enjoy the regular Eucharists that are available. In order to be able to keep better in touch with those who have retired, I have invited the Revd Canon Dr Stephen James to become Retired Clergy Officer for the diocese. Stephen will help me to keep in touch with retired clergy and keep me informed of issues that may arise, including ill-health. As soon, we are able to meet together, I intend to hold a service of thanksgiving in the Cathedral, followed by lunch or tea, to which all retired clergy will be invited. Stephen will help organise this and other events in the future. Please do contact him as and when you wish to pass on information. His contact details are sueandstephen1973@gmail.com and 01873 840229
I would also like to put on record my thanks to the Ven Glyndwr Hackett who has exercised a similar ministry in the past.

Easter Vestries
Easter Vestries are to be suspended until they can take place safely. Those currently in post as churchwardens, PCC members and parish representatives will continue in post until that time. If, for any reason, someone is unable or unwilling to continue in post, then it will fall to each Bishop to appoint to the vacant post.

Easter Offerings and regular giving
This is not an easy time to talk about money, and some may think it inappropriate to do so, but I would be failing in my duty as your bishop if I didn’t make you aware of the significant drop in income our churches are likely to get over the coming weeks and months. Without the regular giving that comes through Sunday collections, many are worried about their churches going bankrupt. If you are able to maintain your regular giving, and give by direct debit if you don’t already do so, that will help enormously and ensure that when this crisis is over our churches will be well placed to continue with their vital work in all the communities of our diocese.
Please also consider making a special offering at Easter in thanksgiving for all that God has done for us in raising Christ from the dead and raising us to new life in him.